The type of panel enclosures a facility may need will likely be different based on a number of factors. This can include the environment in which the enclosure will be housed, the materials it will contain, and the amount of protection being sought by the facility management. Because there is a wide array of environments that can exist in workspaces (e.g., warehouses, factories, office buildings), it is imperative that facility management be familiar with as many panel enclosure types as possible.
In terms of the most common types of enclosures, a specific answer is tough to narrow down. It may be best to look at all types of enclosures and see what it is that they offer to facilities.
Enclosure types are broken down based on very specific standards provided by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, or NEMA. There is also the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) & Ingress Protection (IP) codes are the resulting classification systems used internationally. Determination of the type of enclosure to be used will start by determining its geographic location along with its main application.
Enclosure types include:
Type 1, 2, 5, 12, 12K, 13 (indoor location enclosures)
Type 3, 3R, 3S, 3X, 3RX, 3SX, 4, 4X, 6, 6P (indoor/outdoor location enclosures)
Type 7-10 pertain to hazardous/classified locations
The first round of enclosures are found where protection is needed from falling dirt, circulating dust, as well as some light water dripping and splashing. In other words, basic protection from the elements & made fro indoor use. The next round of enclosures is found where protection is needed from solid foreign objects or moisture protection such as from rain, sleet, and snow. They also need to protect the enclosure & parts/equipment contained within from ice that may accumulate on the outside. The build of these enclosures are more robust so that they can be used for outdoor applications.
The final round of enclosures are meant to handle internal explosions while avoiding external hazards, as well as preventing combustion of combustible dust and use of oil-immersed equipment. These are the most extreme end of panel enclosures & take on Class/Group labeling. The best source for information about all panel enclosure types can viewed in detail through ANSI/NEMA 250-2020, as well as UL-50 & UL-508.
Steel (carbon and stainless) tends to be the predominant material used in the construction of panel enclosures. However, certain facilities may opt to use aluminum, fiberglass reinforced polyester, thermoplastic ABS, and polycarbonate plastic. Considerations about the size of a panel enclosure need to take into account. Depending on what is being housed, issues such as heat dissipation, space for physical mounts, and venting will be important to make note of so that sensitive internal components are not physically compromised by heat & friction.
Finally, security must rank high when it comes to the type of panel enclosures being considered. Keep in mind that sensitive components (both in function & those of a classified nature) that are at the heart of a facility’s operation. The last thing anyone needs to do is root around somewhere they don’t belong or don’t fully understand how to operate. Questions about access for certain personnel & ease of servicing need to be addressed, including the kind of locking mechanism that will work best.
A recent development regarding security in panel enclosures has been the development & implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT). The concept of IoT relates to facility/workplace devices/machinery staying connected across a vast network. The more everything is tied to everything else, the more protection must be given to the connection. As such, the choosing the right panel enclosure to ensure privacy, security, and protection of intellectual property is crucial to avoid issues such as physical damage or the compromising of intellectual property.
LoDan Electronics, Inc. has been a trusted name in electronics since 1967. Contact our team & let us help you find the right panel enclosures for your next project.